In every industrial plant there is always something that causes a problem. One or two components that require regular maintenance or replacement. This could be down to the material being degraded or breakage.
Conventional thinking often leads to the use of more exotic metals or plastics to solve the problem when there may be a more cost effective solution.
Most people will only look at ceramics as a material when the temperature of operation exceeds the normal working temperatures of more standard materials. The thermal properties of ceramics are relatively well known and these materials are regularly ceramic christmas decoration used to contain molten metals and to protect equipment from very high temperature.
What is less known but is becoming more widely accepted is that ceramics are able to provide solutions to many extreme problems that are not necessarily temperature related.
There are now many different engineered ceramic materials available and several methods of producing product that can give significant property advantages over other materials. By careful selection to suit the application it is often possible to provide a cost effective ceramic solution.
Components that can be re-designed to suit manufacture in ceramic can provide a solution that is more practical and cost effective.
Oxide ceramics are extremely hard. By selecting ceramic in high ware environments it is often possible to increase life considerably. Pump shafts and valve components are examples were ceramics have reduced costs considerably.
As an example let us look at a typical component used in a high ware environment. Traditionally made in high grade steel the component is relatively cheap as the machining costs are low. In comparison the machining costs on Ceramic are often very high so for small quantities the part cost is higher. This said when you look at the life cost the ceramic part can be comparable as life is increased and down time reduced. Where higher quantities are required then it is often possible to form a near net shape and reduce the machining needed by 80-90% significantly reducing the part price.
Many materials that are processed will have a detrimental effect on equipment. Chemical attack can cause considerable problems and down time for part replacement. Selection of the right ceramic as the contact face is a great way of reducing the problems as the ceramic is not affected by the chemical. Equally importantly the chemical will not be affected by the ceramic.